True Rock Ministries hosts business fest pop up to bring customers back to South Loops businesses

CHICAGO (WLS) -- After watching small businesses in the South Loop struggle to survive the pandemic, a pastor is hosting a festival to highlight them and bring customers back.

"They are always helping us, so now let the faith-based come together and bless the business community," Pastor Earl Grandberry said.

The pastor his True Rock Ministries church are hosting the Great South Loop Business Fest, a neighborhood pop-up, highlighting local businesses in the church's parking lot.

"Everything is free, just to kind of jump start the businesses," Grandberry explained. "We're going to have food, music and a stage."

Economic tracker Opportunity Insights reported that as of May the number of small businesses open in the Chicago metro area was still down nearly 41% compared to January 2020.

Urban Paws dog daycare center opened just as the city first shut down because of COVID-19. For them, the business fest is right on time, since people may be coming out but they aren't necessarily coming back.

"It means so much to us because it's really just helping us get our name out there and help everybody, because everything we do, it's all for the neighborhood," said Robert Poe, Urban Paw retail manager.

Issues Barber and Beauty Salon is one of the dozen businesses planning on attending the fest. Yvenetta "Midge" Welch said she lost over half her business because of her business, and that resulted in staffing cuts.

"The pop up shops are a blessing to a lot of small businesses starting off," she said.

To participate, all neighborhood businesses have to do is sign up. The entry fee for the public is proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.

The festival will be held June 26, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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